Evans sets Easter points target to keep Mansfield play-off hopes alive

Mansfield Town Manager Steve Evans
Picture by Dan Westwell
Mansfield Town Manager Steve Evans Picture by Dan Westwell

Steve Evans has targeted a minimum of four points from Mansfield Town’s two tough Easter matches to keep their play-off dream alive.

Stags were beaten 1-0 at Doncaster Rovers on Saturday, sealing Rovers’ promotion, but some of the other results elsewhere went in Mansfield’s favour and they remain four points off the seventh spot with five to play.

Evans maintained his side still need four wins to make the play-offs ahead of the Good Friday trip to Wycombe Wanderers (3pm) and home clash with Luton Town on Easter Monday (3pm).

“Best case scenario at Doncaster would have been we’d won and it was only a one point gap,” he said.

“But I said to the chairman on Thursday, given who’s playing each other on the day and given we had to go to Doncaster, as a worst case scenario, if we came out of Doncaster, irrelevant of results, and it’s still four points, we’ll have had a better weekend than others.

“I don’t think many people expected us to go to Doncaster and get anything apart from a magnificent Stags following.

“But our performance deserved at least a point.

“We are four points off it with five games to go. We know what we have to achieve to get into the play-offs.”

Evans continued: “When I joined this football club it was more like a relegation fight than a promotion fight and had John Radford said to me that day, take us to the last five games of the season and you’re four points off the play-offs I’d have said yes please.

“That’s the message to the players today. We are still very much alive and kicking.

“But if we don’t take four from six over the Easter weekend, we’ll not be kicking any more.”

Evans admitted a win at play-off rivals Wycombe on Friday would be the perfect way to prepare for the visit of high-flying Luton.

He said: “I still think we have to get four wins and, just from a mental, psychological battle, I think if we have to take four from six over Easter, dare I say it, I think we’d much prefer three on Good Friday to give us an opportunity to make that six on the Monday.

“At Rotherham we had to win our last handful of games to secure promotion and it’s reminiscent of that situation – the difference is we’re playing for a play-off instead of an automatic.

“But we have to get four out of six over Easter weekend for me, given who we then go to play.

“If we take four from six, it’s game on at Stevenage. If we take less it could finish at Stevenage.

“So let’s hope we’re going to Stevenage to get a positive result to bring us back home against Portsmouth in front of what will probably be the best crowd of the season, given the way the visitors travel.”

Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe were held 3-3 at home by Cheltenham Town on Saturday but are a point and two places in front of 13th-placed Mansfield ahead of Friday’s clash.

“They are a good side with a highly intelligent manager,” said Evans.

“They’ve got good players and they’ve been in and around the play-offs all season.

“They have stuttered a little bit in recent times, but they are capable of getting into the play-offs as we are. It’s a big game for both clubs.”

Ainsworth is also looking forward to the clash, saying: Me and Steve Evans have had some good games against each other.

“Obviously they lost against Doncaster which saw them promoted, so they’ll want to bounce back and we definitely want to bounce back, so it’s definitely the hallmark for a good game on Friday.

“It will be a game where I want to get a win on the board, with Doncaster and a few tricky away trips coming up, and Cambridge at home.

“So it’s all to play for. We’re a point closer, it should have been three, but we’ll work on what went wrong and put it right for Friday.”